Shopping Centres: Why They Need to Embrace Placemaking

What is Placemaking?

During today’s somewhat disrupted retail market, with the growing use and developments of technology, political uncertainty, rising business rates, changing consumer behaviour and negative headlines, landlords are facing a challenging time. However, the retail landscape is not on a ‘downward spiral’ as some articles are alluding to, it is going through a period of change and evolution and placemaking is sitting at the heart of this.

The term ‘placemaking’ has penetrated through the sector and become a concept all landlords are aiming to perfect. Placemaking encapsulates a whole host of elements which ultimately re-imagine and regenerate shopping centres into destinations where people come together to socialise, network, shop, dine, live, and work – creating a sense of community.

Why do we need it in Shopping Centres?

McKinsey estimates that 80% of purchases are expected to happen in stores in 2020 and Forbes expects this figure continue through to 2025! This is because shoppers still crave experience.

Retail isn’t dead, boring retail is, and placemaking is how shopping centres become experiential environments that consumers want to visit.

For shopping centres to engage and retain footfall, new strategies need to be integrated across all areas, from development to management, including (but not limited to):

  • Accessibility
  • Context and layout
  • Car park capacity and design
  • Tenant mix
  • Events such as wellbeing, fashion nights, sport viewings or food markets
  • Engagement with the local community
  • Integrated technology
  • Amenities, cleanliness and ambience
  • Sustainability initiatives
  • Leisure facilities
  • Customer service standards
  • Promotions and discounts/loyalty schemes

Placemaking is ultimately why people would choose visiting a shopping centre over purchasing online and is what sets shopping centres apart from each other/the high street. In general, we are moving towards the idea that placemaking is essential for driving footfall and engaging with public spaces.

What’s the Future of Shopping Centres?

Placemaking is not the future, it’s the current objective. The challenges facing the retail market all bring opportunities to innovate and enhance the experience and create memorable and enjoyable experiences for consumers.

The seamless combinations of retail, leisure, F&B, residential and commercial, creating a natural flow to and from the wider local area, is placemaking at its finest and will continue driving shopping centres forwards.

A recent article from Calvium states: “The malls of tomorrow will need to be less transactional, more inventive, inclusive and committed to creating something unique for shoppers that cannot be found online if they want to thrive.”

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